My periods have always been erratic.
After getting it quite late in the game, I only had it a couple of times during high school because I was training intensely as a competitive swimmer. Then after quitting the sport at 18, it took about five years for me to develop a normal menstrual cycle. But since my very first period, I’ve relied on pads and tampons, like most other women.
However, I recently heard about menstrual cups and was intrigued by the concept. I did some research and found that there are a lot of benefits from using them over other sanitary items. Apart from being eco-friendly, they’re also convenient, more hygienic and more cost-effective.
So, I bought a menstrual cup and gave it a whirl. Here’s what happened.
How they work:
Most cups are made from silicon, and this means technically they can last you FOREVER. But some websites advise to replace it once a year, as discolouration and/or odour can occur.
Menstrual cups form suction and the fluid pools into it, as apposed to it being absorbed by a tampon or pad. You can leave them in for 12 hours at a time, and with a lower risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) than if you use tampons. You can get TSS from leaving a tampon in for longer than 8 hours when the bacteria, staphylococcus aureus, releases toxins into the bloodstream.
How to insert:
The most daunting part was looking at this thing (which is a bit bigger than a shot glass) and thinking ‘how am I going to get this in’. But luckily it’s super flexible and I remembered that my body was made to fit a baby out of the same exit.
- Wash hands well
- Wash the cup well with water
- Sit or stand with legs apart and relax the pelvic floor
- Fold the cup with the bell part up top and stem facing down
- Insert the cup in the direction of your tailbone
- Once it’s almost in, turn it 360-degrees one way, and then all the way around again to ensure it’s sealed off so you don’t get leakage
- The stem of the cup should just be inside the labia.
I used a pad for the first three days of trying (think of it as training wheels) it because I was not sure if I’d put it in correctly.
On day four I successfully had it in for 12 hours without leakage and then again in bed without a dot of blood, which was amazing.
How to take it out:
- Wash hands
- Find the stem, and just above it, start to pull it out slowly
- Empty the contents of the cup and clean (do not use soap). Just soak in warm water for a few minutes
- Once cleaned, insert it again
I found that changing the cup in the shower was the best place to do it. But if you find yourself in a public bathroom, I would say the best way to clean it would be to take it out, pour the blood into the toilet and use the toilet paper to clean it. But, try and do it the proper way unless there’s no other option.
After using the menstrual cup for five days during my period, I am definitely a fan and I won’t go back to pads and tampons. It’s just so much cleaner, there’s no odour, no leakage and no more of the awkward hiding-a-pad-under-shirt walk at work.
You can buy online or at some chemists and health food stores for around $50.